Monday, February 13, 2012

Winter Spinach Salad

Wilted spinach leaves, sautéed shitake mushrooms and caramelized onions warm up spinach salad to make it worthy of a mid-winter lunch or a nice little side salad at dinner.  The trick is to lightly sauté mature spinach leaves until just wilted.  Overcooking or steaming will send the dish far from the salad bar and crashing into side dish oblivion.  This dish is meant to be eaten at room temperature and everything except the wilted spinach leaves can be done ahead of time.

Winter Spinach Salad
Serves 2 as main course, 4 as a side

Ingredients
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 10-oz bag mature spinach leaves, rinsed and de-stemmed
8-10 shitake mushrooms caps, sliced
2 –3 strips cooked bacon
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt & pepper
shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
Optional: 1 hard boiled egg

Method
  1. Place sliced onion in a large skillet with a little bit of olive.  Cook over low (very low) heat 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to caramelize onions.  Check your onions every 5-6 minutes as they melt down and then lightly brown.  
  2. While onions cook prepare spinach. Fold large leaves in half vertically and hold the two sides together with one hand and pull the stem away with the other.  Discard large coarse stems.  Set spinach aside.  
  3. Once onions are cooked place in a small bowl and in the same skillet sauté mushrooms with a little more olive oil and salt to taste.  Remove to bowl with onions.  
  4. Next cook bacon and set aside.  Drain most of fat from pan.  
  5. When ready to serve, sauté spinach leaves until just wilted.  When wilted, remove from heat immediately and add lemon juice, olive oil if using (bacon fat may be plenty) , salt and pepper.  
  6. Divide among salad plates.  Top with onion, mushrooms, bacon and if using as a main coarse, hard boiled egg.  Garnish with cheese. 
What we love about this is that the salad requires no additional dressing since lemon juice and seasonings are added to the greens in the pan.